One hundred and eleven Matsha Senior Secondary School students are in hospitals following an accident that has left the nation reeling in shock.
The accident happened between 3pm and 4pm near Dutlwe village on Friday, killing seven students.
Sources say the truck was taking RADS students to their various homes at the end of the school term when disaster hit.
Five students died on the spot whilst two others were confirmed dead upon arrival at hospital. The affected students are aged between 15 and 22 years in what has been deemed one of the worst accidents ever recorded in the country.
Unconfirmed reports allege that a tyre burst may have caused the accident.
We can confirm that the UD40 model truck belonging to the Kweneng District Council was transporting 126 students with their luggage to their respective settlements located in the difficult terrains of the Kgalagadi desert.
We can also confirm that by Saturday afternoon two students were admitted in the Intensive Care Unit at Princess Marina Hospital, whilst a few others had been referred to Gaborone Private Hospital and Bokamoso Private Hospital, whilst only 28 remained hospitalised at the male and female wards in Marina.
In Molepolole, however, about 69 were admitted at the Scottish Livingstone Hospital in a stable condition.
During a Saturday press briefing held at Marina, the Minister of Health, Dorcas Makgato said that in conjunction with the Botswana Defence Force, Boitekanelo College and MedRescue International, they were able to get at least 15 ambulances to the scene.
“We are in disaster mode. The government is doing whatever it can to make sure that there are no more mortalities. That is our main focus at the moment. Our health workers have not slept to try bring the situation under control. We are doing all we can,” said Makgato.
When quizzed as to what was the cause of accident, Makgato replied: “The police have not yet submitted any report. This is a preliminary report, all details will be availed soon and at the moment we cannot say what caused the accident”.
For her part, the Minister of Education and Skills Development, Unity Dow, said not all of the affected students are Form Five leavers as others were with BOCODOL, whilst some are still students with the school.
When asked on a policy passed by government at least 10 years ago that students should no longer be transported by truck, Dow said: “That policy still stands. It is a standing government policy that students should not be transported by truck, but from time-to-time depending on the situation, the policy may be derailed.”
She further explained: “It depends on a number of things, maybe because of the terrain or maybe that the bus is not available for whatever reason, officials may take the decision. But for this particular case, at the moment I cannot say why they used a truck to transport the students. After an investigation is complete I will be in a position to tell the public what happened”.